While it’s not the most common problem on our Beauty Radar, psoriasis affects around 2-3% of the population – men and women alike! That’s more than 5 million adults in the U.S. alone! The Geeks are here to shed a little light on The Science behind the Problem, and offer up some tips for helping manage problematic areas.

What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition and can occur in all age groups, although it most commonly affects adults. Typically, psoriasis presents as red areas of skin with white scale-like patches, and while mild forms can be more of a cosmetic concern than anything else, the condition can become more serious and negatively affect people both physically and mentally.

If you think you have psoriasis (whether mild, moderate or more severe), or if you think your psoriasis is getting worse, go and see your GP as soon as you can so that they can advise you and keep an eye on things! It’s always better to be on the safe side!

Why so some People get Psoriasis?
There are still a lot of question marks over psoriasis, but there is a lot of research out there too! As we would expect, the fundamental basis of psoriasis is in the skin itself. In most people’s skin, the cells are regularly made and replaced every three or four weeks, but in psoriasis-affected skin the process that makes skin cells is sped up. This means new cells are produced and replace older skin cells in only around three to seven days, and the cells don’t have time to mature properly before they reach the surface. The cells build up on the top of the skin, which we see as the flaky, scaliness of psoriasis patches. This underlying cause means that psoriasis is not infectious (this is one of our most hated misconceptions here at BBTG!).

The reason this skin-making process speeds up is a little less well understood. Genetics is known to play a part, and psoriasis can run in families. Psoriasis development is thought to involve the immune system mistakenly reacting against some of its own cells, and this may well drive the accelerated growth and replacement of the skin. A load of ‘triggering’ factors have been identified that can cause flare ups have been identified in different people, and include excessive alcohol consumption (oops, easy on the cocktails!), smoking, stress (exams, again?!), hormone changes (like puberty or menopause), and injuries to the skin like cuts or bites.

How can we Tackle Psoriasis Head On?
From a Beauty point pf view, we’re a lot more focussed on the mild cases of psoriasis. For severe forms, medicines to help control the immune system can be effectively used – ranging from corticosteroids for inflammation to more elaborate molecular therapies that specifically target the immune reaction.

We’re really here to discuss topical therapies for more mild forms to help improve the appearance of psoriasis, and these are usually the first point of call for treatments. Moisturising agents can be used to help with the scaly appearance of the skin and to help restore its barrier function, and in our previous research we’ve found that almond oil is a particularly good player for this!

Interestingly, topical vitamin D has been shown to improve psoriasis. They work by trying to normalise the skin’s growth, slowing down excessive skin cell generation. These are often a better choice than steroids for long-term use because they usually don’t have many side effects. Retinoids, which are forms of vitamin A, have also been shown to be effective against psoriasis plaques (although they should be used on a shorter-term basis than vitamin D). These topical vitamins are usually recommended in higher doses than what can be found when we talk about them in products, and so usually a trip to the GP and pharmacy are needed to get these vitamin-containing lotions and potions.

Anti-inflammatories are big business for psoriasis sufferers. Ingredients like aloe vera help soothe the inflammation associated with the condition by blocking pro-inflammatory pathways, and have robust scientific studies showing their benefits when used topically on psoriasis.

Natural oils are a good choice for sufferers of skin problems too. These oils promote barrier function and skin repair due to their high content of fatty acids like linoleic and oleic acids. Evening primrose oil and borage oil both contain high levels of gamma linoleic acid and are recommended for use in psoriasis cases, as well as many other skin conditions and dermatitis. Hemp seed oil is another highly moisturising, pro-skin-barrier oil that we’d recommend.

Wrapping up The Science behind Psoriasis
Psoriasis can be a real cosmetic concern, and so for mild sufferers we recommend getting clued up on the latest and greatest moisturising oils and anti-inflammatories. See what’s out there, try things out and see what works for you! Ask around and see what other people are using and share what works for you (feel free to leave us a comment below too!). It’s important to always consult your GP if you think you have psoriasis, or if you feel your psoriasis is getting worse and they’ll have options for you to explore too!

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